The 2016 Alberta Cup marks the 30th anniversary of the very first Alberta Cup, played in Edmonton in 1986. We asked a handful of past participants of the Alberta Cup to share their memories with us.
Jamie Steer not only played in the inaugural tournament in ’86, he was a part of the Calgary South team that claimed the first ever Alberta Cup championship. He went on to play in the NCAA with Michigan Tech on a scholarship, followed by 11 years of professional hockey, including a year with the Canadian National team. Steer is now the Operations Coordinator for Okotoks Minor Hockey, and now, exactly 30 years after winning the Alberta Cup with Calgary South, will serve as the head coach of that very same team.
How did the Alberta Cup help shape your future – in hockey or otherwise?
It definitely drove me to be better. After seeing the best in the province all in one tournament, it opens up your eyes to how many good hockey players there are.
What other involvement did you have with Hockey Alberta?
As a player I went on from Alberta Cup to what was sort of the top 80 in today’s terms. That was as far as I got. As a coach I have coached Peewee Prospects, Alberta Winter Games and have taken my High Performance 1 certification all in this calendar year.
What has it meant to you to be involved with the Alberta Cup from multiple perspectives?
Okotoks hosted two Alberta Cups which I was the tournament chairman for. I was a player 30 years ago, and now I am a head coach. I love the tournament, as it brings so many good players and coaches together. Everyone guesses it is a highlight for the players, but as a coach it’s a great teaching tool to better anyone involved. It means a lot that Hockey Alberta has given me so many chances to be involved in this, and other events.
How does it feel to coach the very team (Calgary South) this year that you won the very first Alberta Cup with in 1986?
Excitement for sure, also a challenge to give these kids and my coaches an experience like I had, one they won’t forget.
How have you seen the Alberta Cup Change over its 30 years?
The obvious is it went from Midget to Bantam. That change has brought in the WHL as it is the league’s last chance to see Alberta players before the draft. Also, the change from it being just a player event to an overall team event. Coach Mentors helping coaches, experienced directors of operations, and qualified trainers being graded. I also think the rural players have improved greatly since the start of this event. Then, you add in the top 80 camp which is feather in the cap for all players involved.
How has the game of hockey changed since you played in the Alberta Cup?
The game is so fast now which everyone knows, but it also has improved in skill as well. Add in that every team is well coached and it is a great game. Also, there are so many more good players. Back then there were so many more mistakes, you had more time, and every team had weak players. I still think players back then were great and would have been great in this era as well because they would have adapted but watching today’s hockey amazes me with the speed, skill and how quick decisions are being made.
Do you still talk to any friends from your Alberta Cup Team?
I have one real good friend still from that team but it is amazing that about half the team I still see every so often and can get caught up with a short conversation. Most from the team that still live in Calgary I have talked to in the past 10 years.
What’s your favourite Alberta Cup memory?
Obviously winning it was the best. The second best, I would say, was playing in the Northlands Coliseum when the Oilers were in there prime (although I am not an Oilers fan!!), and third best was the lousy hotel we stayed at. No way Hockey Alberta would allow kids to stay there these days, but we had so much fun in that hotel even with the rif-raf, police sirens and much more.
Any advice for this year’s players?
Enjoy more than the hockey, meet friends and make lasting memories.